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Absence of regulations hampers key mining projects

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AT-KABUL: The Ministry of Mines and Petroleum (MMP) of Afghanistan on Sunday said that due to absence of comprehensive regulations and legal procedures, major companies were not ready to invest in the country’s mining sector.

Addressing a press conference here, the minister for mines Dawood Shah Saba said that the mining sector faces too many challenges due to lack of clear regulations, law and capacity building programs.

In the last 13 years not even a single mega project was implemented, he said, adding that the ministry is working on a new mechanism, regulations and laws to regulate the contracts of mining projects.

“Therefore, for the time being the ministry is working over contracts of the small mining projects as the execution of big projects is not possible due to lack of a clear mechanism. Mechanism to pave ground for investment in small natural resources projects will be carved out within one week,” he said.

Around 20 contracts were assessed and some of them not meeting the required criteria were rejected. These small mining projects would be reopened for bidding process. The ministry is going to finalize three other mining contracts as well, said Saba.

According to the minister, the new regulation is in the process of drafting. Over 70 percent of work has been finalized and the remaining will complete by the end of this year. The new regulation will attract more investment in the mining sector.

For the first time the Sheberghan-Mazar-e-Sharif 95km gas pipeline project has been initiated. It was once a regional project, supplying natural gas from Sheberghan province to Tajikistan, the minister said.

He furthered that Afghan engineers would work on the project. In the first phase gas would be supplied to the northern zone and later to other parts of the country. Supply of the gas to Mazar-e-Sharif will start next year.

Replying to a question he said that different countries vowed in the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference for Afghanistan (RECCA) to provide technically support in the mining sectors as there is need for cooperation of intentional community for the next ten years.